In a game where Liverpool could’ve gone five points clear at the top of the table with victory, it was West Ham and Declan Rice in particular that frustrated the Reds massively, holding them to a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium.
Throughout the game, it was apparent almost from the first whistle that there was going to be limited space for the likes of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to work in, and that proved to be the main theme throughout the 90 minutes – all credit must go to the Hammers for sticking to their game-plan so effectively.
Speaking after the game, the Irons’ man of the moment Rice, said: “I think you could see that Firmino and Salah were frustrated because they couldn’t go through the middle. They kept going wide and they obviously haven’t got a target man to play up to, so we frustrated their gameplan and we got out with a point.”
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Manuel Pellegrini’s game-plan could’ve reaped greater reward had the linesman been focusing on the play, as Mane’s opener shouldn’t have stood after James Milner was miles offside in the build-up.
As a result of their excellent showing, the Hammers could well have landed the league leaders in a lot of bother for their remaining games of the season – after Leicester nullified them too, are they being found out by opposition sides?
Well, for a start, he can’t begin playing a target man as he sold his most physical striker to Bournemouth in Dominic Solanke, so Klopp needs to work with what he has.
At his disposal in attack are the aforementioned trio, along with Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri if need be – the Reds are extremely weak in terms of their attacking depth.
Rice mentions that once Liverpool were forced to play it wide, that seemed to be the end of their attacking threat. So, as a result of this, the former Borussia Dortmund boss should have no choice but to put Salah up top and play Firmino in behind him in a 4-2-3-1 system.
By doing that, the Reds still have a threat through the middle against sides who don’t plug the holes, whilst also having dangerous players out on the flank.